NHS organisations collaborate to pilot internal Collaborative Locum Bank

NHS London Procurement Partnership is working with its members to pilot an internal NHS Collaborative Locum Bank and demonstrate that the NHS can manage the movement of substantive NHS employees who also work as medical locums.

As LPP’s Agency and Temporary Workstream Lead Preeya Bailie explains, “The current route for medical locums who are substantive employees at one NHS organisation but who wish to carry out additional hours at another is to work through an external agency. Our pilot is trialling the use of a technical solution through an NHS-managed Collaborative Locum Bank. Substantive doctors will continue to be able to work as locums, but will now have the added choice of registering on the NHS Collaborative Bank and putting themselves forward for any suitable vacancies.”

Preeya Bailie comments, “It is perfectly legitimate for substantive NHS employees to carry out additional work through agencies as locums. Many people across the private and public sectors choose to combine permanent and temporary working in their careers – but where the NHS is re-employing NHS staff for temporary assignments, it is only right that the NHS should find a way of managing that movement of its own medical staff without recourse to a third party – particularly at a time when the NHS is tasked with cutting expenditure on agency staffing.

“This does not mean that the NHS should not use staffing agencies – agencies have an essential role in meeting NHS demand for sufficient, quality assured temporary staff when and where they are needed. In this instance, however, we believe we can create a system in which NHS organisations can support the movement of medical locums (who are otherwise substantive staff), maintain staffing levels and enable the NHS to cut costs without affecting patient care. That’s a duty incumbent on all NHS organisations.

 “The NHS already has the expertise needed to manage medical locums – individual organisations use their own Staff Banks for moving staff where they are needed at any one time. What our pilot is designed to do is to cluster organisations in appropriate geographical areas and create an agency-style structure internal to the NHS without incurring the costs associated with the use of agencies.”

Where an organisation finds that it cannot fill a vacancy through this route, there is a process to enable it to go out to agencies – with the very important limitation that agencies can only offer the locum pay rates set by existing framework agreements. “Significantly”, says Preeya, “the primary purpose of the system proposed is not to reduce pay rates currently set for medical locums. In London, medical locum pay rates are currently set by the LPP Medical Locums Framework – this system is simply providing an additional step to filling vacancies before an NHS organisation approaches a third party agency.”

The pilot is being run initially in the London region, with a view to rolling out nationally once the format is proven. Arrangements with pilot sites are currently being finalised, with a view to getting underway before the end of June. A second pilot, featuring a cluster of mental health trusts, is under consideration. Looking beyond the pilot, the procurement of a technical solution will begin in July, to ensure an open and competitive process is carried out which won’t then delay the national roll out if the pilot is successful.

Any NHS body wanting to keep informed of progress with a view to joining the national rollout should contact Preeya.bailie@lpp.nhs.uk